Fraud in the News


Your Taxes: safer than a haircut?

An H&R Block survey shows that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is heading in the right direction in its efforts to protect U.S. taxpayers from fraud. Kansas City Star staffer Mark Davis writes in his March 25 article, "H&R Block survey says consumers want to do more to fight tax fraud," that the tax preparer's report states that "90 percent of taxpayers support training and continuing education requirements for tax preparers," according to H&R Block President and CEO Bill Cobb.

According to the article, Cobb said, during a Washington, D.C., conference that "only four states set standards for tax preparers, though nearly all 50 states license and set competency tests for those who cut hair.

" ‘Something is out of whack when you are better protected getting your hair cut than sitting across the desk from a tax preparer,' " Cobb said in his prepared remarks to conference attendees.

(For more on taxpayer fraud, see "  Identity theft tax refund fraud: A growing epidemic, part 2 of 2" by Robert Holtfreter, Ph.D., CFE, CICA; Tiffany McLeod; and Adrian Harrington, and part 1 in the March/April 2014 Fraud Magazine.) 



Two men, dressed in business suits,  attempted to enter Vatican City with a case stuffed full of forged bearer bonds. They told guards they had an appointment with some cardinals, but the guards quickly surmised the two men were lying.

Apparently, the would-be fraudsters were trying to establish a line of credit at the Vatican bank — the Institute for Religious Works — that they would have used to make investments on international capital markets.

Even if the men had made it past the guards, it's unlikely their scheme would have gotten much further. The bank doesn't loan money, and the fake bonds totaled one-fifth of the entire bank's total assets, according to the March 30 Guardian article, "Vatican bank fraud foiled after suspects stopped with €1.2bn of forged bonds," by John Hooper.

Hooper writes, "A source close to the Vatican said the bonds were for a total of €1.2bn [US$1.65 billion]. The institute's first-ever annual report, published last October, shows that at the end of 2012 ‘loans and advances to customers' amounted to less than €26m out of total assets of almost €5bn [US$6.89 billion]." 

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